As is usual with the Tour of Flanders, it was a race that passed off with considerable incident, not least the decimation of most of BMC in a crash with 102km left to race.
Most riders will however have considered the drama over by the time it came to the podium presentation for winner Peter Sagan, second place Fabian Cancellara and Sep Vanmarcke, third. But if proof were needed one should never let one’s guard slip, a champagne cork ejected itself from a bottle being held by Vanmarcke with such force that it took his hat clean off.
The resulting plume of champagne drenched a race official and a couple of podium girls.
Vanmarcke himself had crashed halfway around the 225km cobbled course, forcing a bike change. He then paced back up to the leaders helped by his LottoNL-Jumbo teammates. “I had to close the gap to them immediately,” he said.
Neither he nor Cancellara had been able to keep up with Sagan, who had decided to ride the race alone. “No one wants to work with me, so it’s better to drop everyone,” he said. And he did, dropping Vanmarcke on the 20 per cent Paterberg and finishing 25 seconds clear of Cancellara's challenge.
The women’s race provided a more gripping finish with Lizzie Armitstead riding for Boels-Dolmans pipping Emma Johansson in a photo finish after the pair broke clear of a nine-rider group on the final climb.
Flanders is Armitstead’s fourth win of the season after the 27 year old triumphed at Omloop het Nieuwsblad, Strade Bianche and Trofeo Binda.